'Huge benefits': Copeland Mayor Mike Starkie shares views on Cumbria coal mine legal challenge

Copeland Mayor Mike Starkie supports the mine and believes there are many benefits to it coming to Cumbria. Credit: ITV Border

Copeland Mayor Mike Starkie has branded legal challenges against the Government's plans to approve a coal mine in West Cumbria as a 'waste of time'.

Friends of the Earth - one of two main opponents to the mine - says it will file its claim later this month.

Its main is issue is the potential climate impacts of the mine.

The other main opponent, South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC), is also considering legal action and sent a letter to the Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, in December seeking more information and setting out some of the errors in law in his decision.  

Speaking on the legal action by Friends of the Earth, Mike Starkie said: "It is not entirely unexpected, there was always the suspicion that they would go down this line.

"Any grounds for legal action is completely baseless and I am pretty sure they are well aware of that. It just seems like a futile waste of money.

"The planning inspectors report was pretty conclusive and it has refuted all of the claims that they were making.

"This mine is the right way forward, the right decision has been made and it has followed full due process. So there is absolutely no basis for any kind of legal claim."

He continued: "Economically the local economy is going to benefit massively from this mine.

"It is going to bring significant employment opportunities, over 500 direct jobs and 1500 supply chain jobs.

"It is going to bring diversity to the local economy and it is going to bring real wealth and prosperity. It is real levelling up in action.

"I would think that Friends of the Earth would have better things that they could spend their time, energy and money on."

Niall Toru, lawyer at Friends of the Earth, said: "By giving the go-ahead to this polluting and totally unnecessary coal mine the government has not only made the wrong decision for our economy and the climate, we believe it has also acted unlawfully.

"Michael Gove has failed to account for the significant climate impacts of this mine, or how the much-needed move to green steelmaking will be impacted by its approval.

"The steel industry is under no illusion that it must decarbonise if we’re to meet our climate goals, which calls into doubt the long-term viability of the mine and the jobs used to justify it.

"Just as many jobs could be created locally through a programme to guarantee every home in the area is properly insulated.

"This would bring a myriad of benefits the mine simply can’t offer, such as lower energy bills, warmer homes and fewer carbon emissions released into our atmosphere.

"With the world facing a climate emergency, we shouldn’t have to take this challenge to court."

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